The International Writers Magazine
Travel without a plan or purpose

On A Plain
Lauren Almey

I would love to take you somewhere beautiful. I could chart new territories with you - not in the Christopher Columbus sense, but in the sense of us.

Us. Boat, plane, canoe, whichever. So long as we were heading away from what we’ve already walked across, and journeying towards places we had only in our heads before.

There, I think I would have a somewhat naïve sense of endless possibility. Money, pah! Health, phooey! Home? Not unless we grow tired of its’ opposite. And if there’s one thing I would be sure of, it’d be that I wouldn’t get tired of showing you the world, as you display it back to me.

My thoughts ream off into the simplest imagery. Me, filling my hands with soil, you, your feet sinking into the earth. I could scoop up river water and wash your shoulders. I could watch as your jaw dropped in awe at countless, breathtaking sights, as your bottomless eyes feasted upon landscapes and cities and oceans and fields. Our skins would feel morning sunlight and twilight chill, summer humidity and winter frost. You could stroke my hair back from my face and I could cover you with sheets when you shiver.

I have found inspiration and splendour in the most basic of landscapes before now; I am not blind to my environment. But I am susceptible to boredom, or indifference, and right now I don’t want surroundings which provoke such emotions. I dread these feelings, and disdain people who seem to be in a permanent, impotent state of either one.

And so I think about somewhere we could admire anew…I would put us somewhere that never trapped us, wasn’t cruel, and didn’t make demands of us. I would split horizons open like segments of fruit and put us in its core on a boat and set sail, everything reduced, everything stripped, everything stimulating again. And a search for perfection is not what I mean at all- I wouldn’t want some plastic beach from some mediocre movie, someone else’s fantasy. It would just have to be real, intoxicating in it's unfamiliarity, but real.

I know what they’re thinking. Oh my how original, an academic in the sunset of her studies who wants to break structure, and transgress boundaries, and experience life outside of her surroundings, go travelling of course, what’s the betting that’ll never happen? I don’t care what other people think. I care that you and I have enough about ourselves to do more than just talk and complain and dream and exaggerate and hope. There must be more to life than wishing.

That could be me, feeling your bare feet against me as I wake up, or your breath on my neck, under my ear, as I fall asleep. I could cradle your head amongst tall grasses. We could wallow in safety and peace. But I have come to realise that it is too dangerous for me to be preoccupied with what could be, rather than with what is. What a hypocrite- I spend so much time criticising those who I don’t think live in the real world!

I accept, rather than just know, that some things lost are lost forever, but that there are things to be gained which await us. And the beauty of it is that I learnt that from you and me, not us, but you and me and that is reality, plain and simple.

When we hug and I go to hold you around the base of your neck, you do it first to me so that I am kept lower against you, my face away from your face, your arms avoiding my waist. If your hand touches my skin, you move it onto the safety of clothing. In the kindness of your actions, I see your unwillingness to even risk deluding or misleading me and therefore hurting me. I see reality like I didn’t before. With one simple act of basic human affection, you helped me reset my head. I bet you thought I wouldn’t even notice! You truly are my most admirable friend.

It is time I thought less about myself and the world I would love us to be in, and more about the one we are in, of our own making. Wishing I could be somewhere better, with you by my side, it takes a level of delusion and escapism that it just isn’t safe for me to maintain anymore. It isn't the house or the town or the shore or even my studies that I am done with. It is pretension, impatience, frustration and longing that have run their course with me.

‘I would love to take you somewhere beautiful’, remains true enough. In essence, that fantasy will never change. In truth, I only hope that one day, you and I both get to places that inspire us again, and I accept that it is unlikely to happen with us at each other’s side.

© Lauren Almey - February 2006

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